Nick Boyle came out of Wednesday's practice with scratches on his neck, arms and torso.
It's been 11 weeks since he's practiced, and Monday was his first day back since a 10-game suspension for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy for the second time.
"I was ready to come out there and slam people," Boyle said.
"But I know your teammates – what is it, Week 12? – they wouldn't like that. I came in Monday and it felt like Wednesday. I was so eager to practice, but that was the day off."
Quarterback Joe Flacco joked that Boyle arrived at the Under Armour Performance Center at 3 a.m. Really, it was more like 7:50 a.m. Boyle checked with his agent on the rules of the earliest he could possibly report. He didn't want* *any snafus.
Boyle's suspension, which was announced on Feb. 19, was a tough blow. He missed the final four games of his rookie season for the same reason, so it meant he was out for 14 straight games (nearly an entire season).
"I'm not going to mess up again; I'll put that out there fair and clear," Boyle said.
"It was a hard thing. I thank [the Ravens] for even allowing me to come back here and allowing me to have a chance to maybe play here. I'm very grateful for that, and that's why I worked extremely hard when I wasn't allowed to be here."
A fifth-round pick out of Delaware last season, he got off to a solid start, making two starts in 11 games and hauling in 18 catches for 153 yards.
His first mistake and suspension was tough enough to swallow. The second was even tougher, because with a crowded room of tight ends, it put his job in jeopardy.
"I tell a lot of people that this whole thing has probably been the toughest thing I've ever been through in my life, which is a blessing," Boyle said.
"I feel like I hurt a lot of people, and I apologize for that and what I did. But a lot of people stuck beside me. I thank everyone for that; they helped me get through it all."
Boyle said the most important thing for him was to create a strict workout schedule to get better over the 10 weeks away. He attempted to simulate workouts and practices. But he did admit that the last couple weeks grew monotonous.
"I feel reborn being back here," Boyle said. "I was out of my element. But you have to put your head down and work through it, and that's what I did. Seeing everyone is probably one of the best things. You miss all the time in the locker room here."
In training camp, it looked like Boyle might have a tough time finding a roster spot once he returned because of the team's depth at tight end. Since then, Benjamin Watson (Achilles) and Maxx Williams (knee) have gone on injured reserve.
Now, with Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller as the only two totally healthy tight ends and Crockett Gillmore (thigh) on the mend, Boyle could be activated to the 53-man roster before Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals or next week.
Boyle would immediately provide an upgrade in blocking, as the 6-foot-4, 260-pound mauler is a physical player who has also flashed receiving potential.
"I think Nick really feels like he missed out," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He's got a football head. That's who he is – what he thinks about. Those 11 weeks were very painful for him. I'm hoping he makes somebody pay for his pain on that by playing well whenever we're able to get him out there."